The high profile murder of pregnant woman Heather Snively, has taken another twist — State Senator Bruce Starr (R- Hillsboro) has used the crime to propose legislation criminalizing the murder of an unborn child. Starr’s office says the proposed legislation includes an exemption clause for abortion, but the law nonetheless touches on a potentially explosive abortion issue.

A draft of the legislation says:

A person does not commit criminal homicide if the death is of an unborn child and occurs:
(a) During a lawful abortion performed with the pregnant woman’s consent to the abortion or with the consent of a person authorized to act on the pregnant woman’s behalf; or
(b) As the result of acts committed by the pregnant woman.

Washington County charged Korena Roberts with the murder of Snively but not the murder of the eight-month-old unborn son who was in her belly. Unless prosecutors can prove the baby took a breath, he is not considered a victim, and Roberts cannot be tried for his death.

“There is no doubt that there are two victims, two crimes and two instances where justice must be served,” said Starr. “The family of Heather Snively and her son John Stephens will always grieve for two, and the law should recognize that two lives were ended on Friday, not just one.”

This was indeed a violent and tragic act, and Heather deserves justice. But it also seems like a veiled attempt to make headway in the efforts to ban abortion. Classifying the death of some fetuses as “murder” definitely opens a door for right-to-lifers.

-Rachael Marcus